The life of a goaltender for a Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender is among the most difficult situations in sports, outside of maybe tending goal for the Vancouver Canucks. James Reimer would likely be one of the first to attest to that fact.
The 2011-2012 season was particularly unkind to Reimer, as he struggled with his play and with his healty. Questions were raised as to whether or not Reimer was actually the franchise goaltender that many thought he was in his first year as a starter, or if he was nothing more than a one-year wonder.
Those questions have led to several trade rumors throughout the offseason. The Leafs have reportedly been in the market for any goaltender available, with the most likely options looking like Roberto Luongo or Jonathan Bernier.
But the Leafs have pretty much stood pat with their goaltending situation, and Brian Burke has made his faith in Reimer public. It’s going to be on Reimer to prove that Burke’s faith in him is justified. He has his work cut out for him to prove that this season.
In his first year as a starter for Toronto, Reimer looked like he had the potential to be an elite goaltender. He made 35 starts and finished with a 2.60 GAA and three shutouts. He wasn’t able to follow up that performance this past season.
Reimer struggled to stay healthy, and when he was, he was unable to keep ahold of his starting job. He made just 34 starts, finished .500, and had a disappointing save percentage right at .900. Prior to his injury, though, he had actually played pretty well, with a 2.62 GAA and a shutout in his first six starts.
There’s no question as to the difficulty of playing in the Toronto market overall, let alone spending your nights between the pipes at the Air Canada Centre. But I think Reimer has shown flashes of being a top notch goaltender in this league.
Those may have been just that – flashes. But if he can perform as consistently as he did in his first year, and as good as he looked at the beginning of last year, he could end up among the greats this franchise has seen. Now he just needs another chance.